The Leo Lions would prefer to play basketball at their own deliberate pace.
But even in the rapid-fire opening minutes of Leo's visit to Bishop Luers on Tuesday, the Lions controlled the scoreboard, if not the pace. A mini-run by the Knights in the second quarter tightened the score, but the Lions were never really threatened as they improved to 5-0 with a 72-35 win.
“I think it's good, because I think we're going to see different styles, we're going to see people who are going to try to speed us up,” Leo coach Cary Cogdell said. “We're going to see people who are going to try to pack it in down low. And we come into a road environment against a sectional opponent, and we handled it. I just would've liked to have seen us handle it with fewer turnovers.”
Leo senior Xavier Middleton hit the first shot of the game, and then a bucket by junior guard Nicholas Thompson tied the game at 2. After senior Demetrious Allen gave the Lions a 4-2 lead, they never trailed again.
Leo shot 10 of 20 in the first half while the Knights (1-2) were just 6 of 24. By the end of the first quarter Leo led 18-6. The Knights recovered a little in the second quarter – a 3-pointer by Nelson Knapke cut the Leo lead to 21-15 – but the Lions finished the half on an 8-2 run to go into the locker room with a 29-17 lead.
Six of those last eight points were scored at the free throw line, and the foul situation grew even more dire for Bishop Luers in the second half. Thompson picked up his third foul in the second quarter, and quickly picked up a fourth with five minutes to play in the third quarter. Knapke picked up his fourth foul soon after, and with a little more than a minute to go in the third a Luers player was ejected after shoving a Leo player in front of the Bishop Luers student section.
The Knights ended the game with 25 fouls.
The Lions were awarded 12 free throws in the third quarter and made nine. Leo hit 23 of 31 free throws for the game.
“I think we did OK (at the free throw line). I feel like we're going to get to the line a lot, we have good size, we go inside, we're going to come at you,” Cogdell said. “We're probably going to get to the line quite a bit, and we have to make them.”
Bishop Luers, meanwhile, scored just seven points in the third quarter, and trailed 53-24 heading into the final quarter.
Brody Hiteshew and Luke LaGrange led the Lions in scoring with 14 points each. Caedmon Bontrager scored 11 points and Allen had nine points and eight rebounds. Ayden Ruble had seven assists.
The Knights were led by Charles Powell with eight points and Isaac Zay had seven rebounds.